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Build a Coolidor
Build a cigar humidor from a cooler

Build a Coolidor

Building a humidor does not have to be difficult; it’s actually quite simple.  All it takes is about 30 min and $50 in materials (possibly even less).   Humidors built from a cooler have many advantages, and will in many cases out perform any standard cigar humidor.

Advantages of building a humidor from a cooler:

  • Holds humidity very well as the cooler has airtight seals.
  • A cooler only costs around $38 while a humidor of similar size will cost around $500.
  • Humidor cooler is easy to build and cost effective.
  • Easily store your cigar cooler humidor in the closet, or anywhere out of sight if you choose.
  • Lots of room and easy to work with.
  • You don’t have to worry about ruining any wood, as coolers are very durable.

Follow the plans below to ensure your humidor comes out perfect.  Please be aware that you can alter these plans however you see fit.  If you want to use a different size cooler, hygrometer, shelving units, etc, please do.  These are basic plans for building a humidor, so you can alter however you choose.

Parts list to build the humidor:

At least a 50 qt cooler – I recommend going with a 70 qt as it will give you more room.  You’re likely to fill up the cigar cooler in no time.  You can get a 70 qt for around $40.00 or so.

Cigar Humidification device – I recommend using RH beads, as they’re cheap, easy to use and efficient.  You can also use a more expensive electric-type cigar humidifier if you choose, however the beads are the best option.  You can also buy a Puck from http://www.cigarsciences.com – they start at around $15.00

Cigar Hygrometer – While the RH beads do a great job at ensuring your humidity stays exactly where it’s supposed to stay, you’ll still want to purchase a digital cigar hygrometer.  Be sure to get the kind that you can calibrate.  A cigar hygrometer costs around $18.00.

If you plan on storing single cigars, then you might want to purchase a few cigar storage tray or bins.   A cheaper alternative is to go to your local cigar shop and see if they have any free cigar boxes they’ll give.  Usually they will, especially if you buy a few cigars.

Building your humidor

Step 1:
Deciding where your new humidor will be placed

The first step in building a humidor is deciding where you plan to store your cooler / humidor.  Always choose a cool, dry area and never in direct sunlight.  A closet works great, or perhaps a basement if you have one.   As long as your temperature remains below 78F or so, you’ll be fine.

Step 2:
Deciding on the size of cooler for your humidor

You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing how big you want your humidor to be.  I suggest a 70 qt size cooler, however if that’s too big, then choose something that better fits your needs.  If 70 qt is too small, then go even bigger.  Do a quick inventory of your cigars and see how much room you’ll need to store at least what you have today.  It’s a good idea to factor in the future, as now that you have the room you’ll probably end up purchasing more cigars.

Some cooler comes with wheels; might be a good option if you plan on going big.  If you will be taking your humidor cooler to herfs, then definitely buy a cooler with wheels.  Check to make sure that the cooler you purchase will fit in the area you plan on storing it.  Search around the internet for deals on coolers, as you can find deals for free shipping.

Step 3:
Removing any odors (plastic, etc) from Cooler

Once you get the cooler, you have to prep the box for cigars. To do this, pour really hot water into the cooler and swish it around. You may add some baking soda as well, and brush it up against the walls. Let the cooler stand over night with the hot water/baking soda mixture. Dump the water out in the morning, and rinse out the baking soda. Bring the cooler outside (best on a warm/sunny day) and leave the lid open, allowing the sun to bake onto the inside of the cooler. Leave it out in the sun for about 8 hours, and then bring the cooler inside. Pour half a box of baking soda into a dish and place inside the cooler. The next morning, open the cooler and check for any lingering plastic smell. Once it is smell free, you are on to the next step.  Some people like to use bleach to help get rid of the cooler smell; I prefer not to do this.

Step 4:
Installing the hygrometer and humidifier

Now you are ready to prep your cooler. You’ll want to decide on the placement of your hygrometer and humidifiers. I suggest placing the hygrometer on the center of the lid for convenience; that way you’ll see it every time you open the cooler.  Place the humidifier anywhere in the cooler – some place that is less likely to get bumped or disturbed.  You’ll also want to place it where it’s easily accessible, as you’ll need to recharge the unit periodically.

Step 5:
Setting the environment (humidity level):

Once everything is mounted in the Coolidor, go ahead and close it up and place it in its home. Check regularly, your safe zone is 63%-70% RH. Once you reach this zone, go ahead and put your cigars into your humidor. You will have to keep an eye on the cooler for a while as your cooler will fluctuate in RH. Adding cigars generally helps stablize your humidor, as the cigars are (or should be) properly humidified already.

While this is not an exhaustive source for how to maintain a Coolidor, it will give you enough information to build one from scratch. A Coolidor can be as elaborate, or as simple as one desires.  A coolidor is a great way to maintain your cigars without spending a lot of money on a fancy humidor.

If you have any questions regarding proper cigar storage, humidity levels, troubleshooting, etc, please visit the CigarPass Humidor Forum

4 comments

  1. What about Spanish cedar lining. Should it be seasoned before glueing inside the cooler or put in dry and seasoned after its attached. I’m worried about it swelling or twisting after it’s installed so I might season the wood first then install it.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Spanish cedar is not required for a coolidor. If you’re using a coolidor to store cigars, leave them in their boxes. If you have singles, then you can buy spanish cedar trays, and simply place the single cigars in the trays. Good luck!

  2. What about cellophane wrapped cigars? Don’t you need to take them out of their wrapper so the humidity gets to them? Do cigars kept in their boxes also need to be cracked open so they can get some humidity in them?

    • Matt. Cellophane on or off, makes no real difference to humidity. However if excess temp/humidity leads to mould leaving cello on can prevent mould spread. Boxed cigars can be left closed from a humidity point of view but I always open mine up from time to time just to check.

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